Risk factors for advance fee fraud victimization

Stuart Ross, Russell G. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Advance fee scams come in many guises. Some regularly seen examples involve: * offers to participate in business deals with wealthy individuals; * assisting dignitaries by paying fees to move large sums of money out of a foreign country in order to receive a share of the proceeds; * paying fees in order to receive lottery winnings, an inheritance or some other prize; or * paying money to develop a personal relationship or marriage with someone met online. In each case, the motivation behind the deception is to secure a payment from the victim which is paid in the expectation that a substantial benefit will follow. Of course, this fails to eventuate and the victim is left without the anticipated reward and without the funds paid in advance. Effective prevention of, and law enforcement responses to, such crimes are problematic. This form of fraud is often associated with offenders based in West Africa (and in particular Nigeria) but is now geographically widespread. The use of electronic communications makes it extremely difficult to prevent scammers from reaching potential victims, and the ability of the scammers to conduct their operations anonymously from cells in a variety of countries means that few offenders are arrested and prosecuted (Smith, Holmes & Kaufman 1999). The best approach lies with prevention, in raising awareness and in encouraging potential victims not to respond to invitations in the first place. Developing effective prevention strategies requires a sophisticated understanding of the scam typologies used and the reasons why people choose to participate. Armed with such knowledge, advice can be developed to persuade potential victims not to become involved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice
Issue number420
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


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